Garbage Law in Washington State

4 Replies

A tenant provided notice that she is not renewing the lease and moving out, the building is a triplex, each tenant has separate entrances and parking areas. Her lease reflects that she will pay for garbage and electricity, it was signed in 2015. In addition the lease with the former building owner from 2014 states that she will pay for trash.

She is now asking for me to reimburse her for all her garbage bills for the term of the lease because she found a WA state law pertaining to trash service for multi-family properties. Here is the language of the law:

Except in the case of a single-family residence, provide and maintain appropriate receptacles in common areas for the removal of ashes, rubbish, and garbage, incidental to the occupancy and arrange for the reasonable and regular removal of such waste.

Has anyone in Washington state dealt with this law before? She is threatening to take me to court, and while the law appears clear that I'm supposed to arrange for trash it doesn't specifically state that I have to pay for the trash service. I had no idea this law existed.

That's an interesting one. I would be interested to know what you find out and would highly suggest talking with your attorney might be worth the quick email. Everything I have found online says "If more than one family lives in a house or apartment building, the landlord must provide garbage cans and arrange for trash (and in some cases, recyclable items) pick up. If only one family lives in the house or apartment building, the landlord does not have to provide trash pick-up." But does not state who "pays" for it just that you have to arrange it. 

Seems similar to having to provide electricity and water - doesn't seem to imply who pays.  Those two are usually handled in the lease.

"Provide and maintain" to me means that it's one of the utilities that you're responsible for having made available. There's no wording that you're responsible for the cost of the services. Just for providing cans/dumpster and making sure service is available to the household to have it removed. 

Tell her to take you to court. If she can't afford garbage she can't afford a lawyer. 

Washington law also has similar wording that means that technically, a landlord should provide any tools, lawn mower, ect for lawn maintenance the property requires. I've never had a landlord provide that. So she's trippin. 

I think it would depend on whether or not you arranged for the trash collection and just added the cost to rent or not.

Based on the wording, she may be able to collect some money if she arranged for trash pickup.

If the trash collection is in your name, and the rent is adjusted so tenant pays for trash, I'd say let her take you to court.

If that's not the case, you could ask a lawyer if possibly offering to reimburse her for only the most recent trash bill would be a good idea to keep things out of court.

For all my properties I arrange for and pay for trash service and add the cost into rent. Not sure if you want to go that route and I'd also be interested to hear what oother do regarding this.

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